Digging out, drying out after storm

December 15, 2010 11:23:40 AM PST
You can't blame Bill Heissler if he's tired. Like so many others in Orange County, he spent hours shoveling snow. It was wet, heavy snow -- the kind that jams in snow blowers -- leaving people with little choice but to do it the hard way.

Several inches of snow fell overnight blanketing the area with the first significant accumulation of the season. Schools throughout the area were closed.

But this storm was also sloppy. Rising temperatures turned the precipitation to rain, and the snow on the ground into a slushy mess. Police and tow truck operators were busy with motorists who couldn't keep it on the road.

Snow also gave way to rain across much of New Jersey Wednesday, creating different problems for road crews who had to switch from plowing to worrying about flooding.

By mid-afternoon, the rain had stopped and sunshine was returning across much of the state. High winds remained, however, and it was expected to remain windy through Thursday, with temperatures turning sharply colder. Lows Friday morning were forecast to dip to 20 degrees or lower in many areas.

Wantage and Butler in the northwest corner of the state received more than 4 inches of snow overnight. By 5 a.m., it had turned to rain like the rest of the state.

Tim Greeley, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said crews plowed snow from the shoulders of Interstate 80 and Routes 206 and 15 to improve drainage.

Some school districts had delayed openings or even closed because of the weather.

Wind gusts up to 45 mph blasted coastal Atlantic and Cape May counties. Nearly 1,700 customers were without electricity in Atlantic County at the height of the storm Wednesday morning.

Minor flooding was reported along back bays, but major roads remained passable in southern shore communities.

Planes were leaving Newark Liberty International Airport about 30 minutes late at one point.